Oil prices fall as U.S. drillers add rigs

Fri Jan 27, 2017 3:58pm EST
 
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By Jessica Resnick-Ault

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices slipped on Friday, extending losses after data suggested drilling is ramping up in the United States, prompting investor concern about how effective OPEC and other producers will be at supporting prices by cutting supplies.

U.S. crude CLc1 futures for March delivery settled down 61 cents, or 1.1 percent, at $53.17 a barrel.

Brent was down 72 cents at $55.52 a barrel.

The U.S. weekly oil and gas rig count from Baker Hughes showed that U.S. drillers added 15 oil rigs in the week, the 12th gain in 13 weeks. That brought the total count to 566, the most since November 2015. [RIG/U]

"We’re in a holding pattern at this point in time," said Mark Watkins, regional investment manager at U.S. Bank Private Client Group. "Supply is a big factor right now and you have the U.S. really filling that gap that OPEC has left open."

Prices had risen during Asian trading, though activity was thin due to the start of the Lunar New Year holiday in much of that region, including China and Singapore.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers, including Russia, agreed to cut output by almost 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) in the first half of 2017 to relieve a two-year supply overhang.

But U.S. oil production has been rising, with the International Energy Agency forecasting total U.S. output growth of 320,000 bpd in 2017 to an average of 12.8 million bpd.   Continued...

 
A pump jack is seen at sunrise near Bakersfield, California October 14, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson